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June's Journal



22/07/2019 [17:35] The weekend was something of a mixed bag, if I'm honest with you. It started on Friday with the final race of the week. Seven races in five days was pretty tired, with a full (albeit "low-effort") running schedule as well. To cut a long story short, we held on and didn't get caught, so that was good. It was touch and go in places, but we did what we needed to. When we got back to the boat house I found that someone had locked their bike to and through mine, so as I didn't want to stay until late into the night with everyone else partying, and there was no way I was going to be able to find the bike's owner among a couple of hundred people, I spent a couple of minutes cutting through the cable lock with a Leatherman-a-like. I felt bad about it, but I didn't steal the bike, and wrapped the cable around it in a manner which made it look like it was still secure. Then I went home via the Chinese, and had a nice early night.

On Saturday morning I did my hour's run, which felt somewhat harder than it should have done for the pace I went at and the temperature. When I got back I had a shave and potentially gave myself razor burn, although it remains to be seen if it is or not. I also worried about other bits of me, but haven't got anything to name the worry as yet. I then waited in for the rest of the day until the first builder I had scheduled to come and look at my rat ingress problem arrived. Eventually he did and I was surprised that he didn't immediately agree about breaking up the floor in the utility area, but instead set to work off his own bat taking up some of the patio and identifying the possible problem and a two-part solution. This endeared him to me, so I'm waiting on his quote/estimate for the actual work. After that it was Tesco, a very late lunch, catching up on emails, some clothes washing, and relaxing. On Sunday morning I tried to sleep in a little and sort of managed it, although I still felt pretty groggy when I got up. I made myself do my 2 hour run, but it felt a lot harder than it should have done. I had a bit of a runny nose and a sore throat, but put this down to running through very grassy fields, and the dusting I'd done in the house before going out. I spent the rest of the day doing very little and feeling sorry for myself.

This morning I didn't feel too bad, but still somewhat unhappy with how I was feeling. At work things were thankfully fairly quiet, so I was able to do what I needed to look after myself. More on that during the week as necessary. I've done some work on creating some new VMs, but have fallen foul of a disk-sizing issue that I'm going to need to talk to someone else about. There's plenty more work waiting for me, too. But so long as nothing untoward comes along I should be OK this week even though most of my office and potentially-required support is away for various reasons.

Oh, I forgot to mention two cycle-related incidents this morning. The first was two cyclists colliding right in front of me and getting some facial injuries and at least one completely totalled (carbon) front fork. I stopped and made sure they were OK and would go to their office first aid persons when they got to work (in both cases only a minute or two away). The second incident was a woman with large headphones on who went through two red lights (one T-junction, one pedestrian crossing with people on it). I shouted at her and she had the temerity to tell me not to shout so loudly at her. I guess even with her headphones on I must have been pretty noticable.

Anyway, that's everything for now. I'm going home before this day can throw anything else at me.

19/07/2019 [17:25] Well, we managed it. We did what we needed to in the second race we had last night. The first one was pretty tight at a few points, and I wasn't sure we were going to make it, but due to some terrible coxing in the boat behind us (and our grit and determination, obviously) we managed to come out on top. In the second race the crew we were after (who we would have caught the previous night if not for the boat-stopping crab and seat malfunction) put up a reasonable fight, and even refused to concede for far too long, but we got them in the end. As a result we're only rowing once tonight, but it could be another very hard race, especially if the crew we were chased by in the first race last night catches the crew we caugh in our second race. If that happens that first crew will be chasing us again, and it could be a close-run thing. We'll just have to see.

At work there's been a lot going on, but mostly in the morning. I spent quite a long time finding out about some of the more interesting/esoteric parts of our main DNS management interface, and nearly got as far as creating a whole slew of new VMs, until I realised that I need someone to add the networks the new VMs will be on to the VMWare hosts. That should happen on Monday, but in the meantime I've got everything else ready to go, I think.

As Rachel's in Africa until next Saturday I've got the weekend to myself, which I'm not totally happy about, but it does mean I might get some useful stuff done. The other builder I'd contacted got back in touch with me a few hours ago and may come on Saturday to look at the work I want done. The other one (if I didn't mention already) is coming on Monday morning. After that I guess I'll go with whichever gives the best quote combined with how I feel about them. Otherwise over the weekend I have a 1 hour run (which I may combine with parkrun) and a 2 hour run on the Sunday, which is going to be tough no matter what pace I do it at. There'll be Tesco, some television-watching, maybe some weeding at the front of the house and perhaps even some house work, which I haven't done in far too long. Then it'll be Monday again. Have a good weekend.

18/07/2019 [16:45] Disappointingly, we caught a major boat-stopping crab last night as we were attempting to catch the crew in front, and then had a seat malfunction off the back of it, so we stood little to no chance of doing what we needed to. As a result we're rowing twice again this evening. I had real problems feathering the blade with my left hand in the latter part of the race as I seemed (as I have previously) to lose all grip strength. This was exacerbated by people splashing water up onto the blade handle, which made it slippery, too. Anyway, two more rows this evening. With my having done a 45 minute medium-fast run at lunch time too I expect I might actually feel tired at the end of tonight.

What'll also contribute to my tiredness is today's massive amount of work I've dealt with. I started early, patching and rebooting servers just before 07:00, then cycling over to a server room to replace a DIMM in one of them. Then back in the office helping a webmaster deal with a server which wasn't responding to the traffic managers despite the web server process running. Then there was the issue with someone using the login credentials of someone who left months ago, which was a bit of a shock to see in the logs (plus that server wasn't responding to HTTP requests either, and needed fixing too). Then there was the patching of all of the NetBackup servers (firmwares too), and having to deal with the tape robot attached to one of them not being detected afterwards. On top of all of that was all the usual day's work, and attempting to keep the number of warning lights on the monitoring system under control. I think I managed it, but not as well as I would have liked.

Anyway, I have to leave for the boat house now as we're pushing off for our first race this evening somewhat earlier than previous nights.

17/07/2019 [17:20] Another day, another session of busy from start of day to end. I've only just had time to draw a little breath after lots of things happening constantly today. It has been so busy I didn't even enjoy the meetings I got to go to because I didn't like being away from my desk where I could get things done. Sitting in a meeting just felt like time wasted, and I kept wanting to get up and leave. Still, I managed to get a reasonable amount of tasks completed, solved a few vexing issues, and got everything as ready as I could for tomorrow morning's patching and reboot work (not to mention having to cycle over to a server room to replace a DIMM).

Last night's row went OK. We managed a better start than the second one the previous night, and maintained the position we needed to on the river. Thankfully there was only one row, so I got home at a more sensible time. We're doing the same thing again tonight in terms of time on the water, and the time at which we boat, but this time we'll be at the back of the next division up and chasing, rather than being chased.

Someone from the water board came out while I was at work today and ran a proper remote camera down my drains. They've confirmed what was already thought; that the drains are fine, but there's something very odd going on underneath the floor of my utility area and it's going to have to be dug up. I haven't heard anything from either of the two companies I contacted about coming to see the place and give a quote. I'll call them both tomorrow and see what's happening. I still go home every evening, wake up in the morning, or just as I'm in the house, listen for the sounds of rats, and wonder if they're going to be in the one cupboard they can get into when I open the door. It's disconcerting, and I want them gone, blocked, and everything to be fine again. At least if I have the floor up I should be able to tell if they're responsible for the creaking and slight bowing of the laminate wood flooring in the rest of the downstairs.

16/07/2019 [17:35] So the first night of racing was a mixed bag, but I'll get to that in a moment. First of all there's the fact that I went home, via Tesco for the week's food, then had the pest control guy round with his 'flexible' camera. It wasn't all that flexible, but confirmed some of my fears; I'm going to have to have the floor up in the utility room/area. The rats have really excavated under there and as we couldn't see exactly what's happened, I'm going to have to have the nice/expensive tiles up (probably breaking them in the process) and the whole area concreted. At the same time we might be able to see what's happening with the drains under there, too. What's most worrying(!) is that the pest control guy thinks there may be issues with the drains themselves outside of the house, which'll need the patio taking up perhaps, too... We'll start with inside the house, I think. So I called my favourite plumber, who gave me the name of a decent builder who might be able to do the job. I called him and am awaiting a call back as to when he can come and look at things and hopefully give me a quote and a time frame. I should get at least one other quote, I think. I've solicited on my area's Facebook group for recommendations.

But then once all that was not so much done as dealt with I had to head off to row for the evening. To cut a long entry short, the first row went pretty well, although I think I was pushing a little too hard compared to everyone else in the boat. The start was good, and we did what we needed to. The second row, after waiting on the bank below the finish for almost an hour, wasn't so good. We tried a "fly and die" to catch the crew in front, and was making ground... when they caught the crew in front of them. This means, hopefully, that when we next race in that division we'll catch them moderately quickly. We'll have to wait for Wednesday to see how that turns out... unless we get caught tonight. I'm off down to the boat house shortly to get ready for tonight's race. Then home, a little earlier than last night, when I ended up not eating dinner until 22:00.

Oh, and I was in early this morning for patching, even as I woke up with a horrible headache (possibly from dehydration). That all went well, which was a blessing.

15/07/2019 [16:00] Another hectic day again. I get the feeling they're all going to be like this for the forseeable future. Especially this week when I've also got busy evenings, and will still be running training as well. Anyway, the day started well with a text from Rachel to say she was on her plane (more on that in a second) and a phone call with my mother to ascertain that she wasn't as ill as I'd initially thought she might be. So that was good. At work... well, lots went on. More than I can be bothered to detail, but enough that I haven't really stopped all day. Although now I do have to stop as I have to get home via Tesco to get at least a little bit of shopping for the week before the pest control guy comes back again, this time with the camera-on-a-stick he was supposed to bring on Thursday evening. When he turned up without it we rescheduled for this evening, but as soon as he's gone I have to head out to this week's rowing races.

On Thursday evening Rachel arrived and we had a lovely quiet evening in. On Friday morning we got up horribly early and ran for two hours in what I hoped would be reasonably cool weather. I still managed to lose about 3kg of fluid, and couldn't keep up with her when she did some mile sprints (or at least faster than we'd been going up until then). A quick shower, some food, and we were cycling to the local train station to get trains to York where he brother collected us and took us home. We put up the tents with Rachel's nephew, and had a nice evening meal together before discovering that the birds were just too damned loud to sleep outside. As a result we all slept indoors for both weekend nights. On the Saturday we took a bus and trains to Selby and had fun times doing climbing walls and aerial adventure stuff at the leisure centre, and even met up with Rachel's parents briefly, too. After getting trains and a taxi back again in the evening we bought shop pizza and settled in with a film for the evening. Sunday morning was mostly about watching the cricket and playing Rocket League (my first time) before Rachel's brother and sister-in-law came back from their weekend away and drove us back to the train station. Rachel and I got trains back to London, where I jumped onto my train out of London again and said goodbye to Rachel for the next two weeks or so. She's somewhere between Qatar and Kenya at this point, I think. She'll be in a few countries in East Africa, doing useful and important things, and then coming home to me again, safely, I hope.

Now it's time for me to head off for the day, do shopping, look down a rat hole, and then do some rowing. Tomorrow morning's an early start for patching and stuff. Oh, I did some of that at lunch time today, as well.

11/07/2019 [15:50] Despite the early start this morning, today was a much better day than yesterday. I got in just before 07:00 and had all 23 servers patched and rebooted before 07:30. I even then managed to get the final server with PSU issues sorted so it was operating with redundancy again, too. So that was marvellous. Yesterday's SAN issues were solved with a combination of me rebooting a server and managing not to mess up the Oracle databases on it, and my colleague staying until close to 20:00 and being on the phone with technical support. Well done him. Anyway, after I'd finished with the patching, I managed to get four new VMs built and Ansible run over them to the point at which I could hand them over to the people who need them. This means they'll have something to do while I'm away tomorrow. Since the server builds I've mainly been trying to reduce the number of flashing lights on our monitoring system and - all things considered - over the course of this week I haven't done too badly. I went for a hotter-than-expected run at lunch time, showered, ate at my desk, and very shortly I'll be leaving for home so I can have a second visit from the pest control guy, who hopefully will have his camera-on-a-stick with him this time to see about where the rats might be getting in from.

Rachel arrives this evening (hurrah!), we have dinner together (with cheese she brought back from her day trip to France yesterday), we have a lovely evening together, go for a one hour run tomorrow morning, then get the train to York to look after her nephew for the weekend. We'll be sleeping in a tent (if the weather's good) and doing some fun outdoor activities. Depending on what happens on Sunday we'll either run then, or I'll try to get it done once I get home later on. I'll be saying goodbye to Rachel somewhere in London though as she'll be heading off to Africa again for almost two weeks very, very early on Monday morning. Disappointing to say the least, but I'll have my hands full with rowing again next week, so that'll at least keep me occupied in the evenings along with work during the day. Speaking of rowing, I had my one pre-racing week outing last night. Other than some extremely likely blister issues and a lack of grip strength, I think it's going to be a fun week.

So, time to head off, see you Monday.

10/07/2019 [18:02] A complete mare of a day. It started with bad drivers and cyclists on the way to work, then lots and lots of things went wrong over the course of the morning with only a DIMM replacement and a HDD swapout going without a hitch. I worked through lunch trying to fix things and had some success with the PSUs which'd been misbehaving since yesterday's power work. Not everything got fixed though, obviously. After that the SAN at one of our server rooms went wrong and took out a live service, only there wasn't anyone around to help me troubleshoot and fix it until just now as there was a barbeque going on at which all the people who could help me were at. I've only just had someone come back with the authority to help me and tell me that I could/should reboot the server which remained affected by the SAN thing. He's now working on things while I disappear to go and row in a boat for the first time in a year. I'm in early tomorrow morning for patching and rebooting. I'd be surprised if something doesn't go horribly wrong tomorrow morning, too.

09/07/2019 [15:55] Today went downhill quickly. After getting up early, doing my morning stuff, getting into work, and patching and rebooting a dozen or so server I was feeling fairly good about the day in prospect. Then the planned electrical work started (taking down one busbar at a time; no problem (supposedly) for dual power supply servers). Everything seemed to be going OK, but then one server died completely (with two KVM guests on it), and three other servers began to complain that their PSUs had failed (while still apparently supplying power to the servers). At the same time a HDD I was waiting for from yesterday continued not to materialise, another server didn't come back after patching, so I went over to look at it, found it was OK, but found another server with an unreported DIMM error. While dealing with all of that I managed to track down the missing HDD (delivered to another building across the way), order another DIMM, order two power supplies for the server which died completely, and even schedule some downtime to check whether draining the power/reseating the PSUs might fix things.

After all of that I desperately needed to get out for a run, so went and did one. I've just been making sure everything's in a fit enough state for me to head off to the doctor to check to see if I caught anything from dealing with rat excrement and urine two weeks ago. Incidentally, I'm pretty sure I heard them again this morning, so the poision's not done the job completely.

I'll be back tomorrow for more of the same, including a trip to a server room to replace the DIMM and the HDD.

08/07/2019 [17:20] Weekend goodness was had. I headed to Croydon and arrived at Rachel's house to find my parents there as they hadn't gone with Rachel to her event in Oxford that evening. We had a lovely catch-up and dinner together before heading to our respective beds. Rachel arrived home from her event after 23:30 and I almost completely woke up to welcome her. In the morning we decided that going to parkrun just wasn't what we felt like doing, so didn't. Instead, a little later on we all got up and had breakfast together. After that we headed to the tram and got one to a near by National Trust property where we could go for a nice amble in the sun following lunch in the cafe there. That took up much of the middle of the day. Later on in the afternoon, once we were home again we relaxed, read, and Rachel made an absolutely delicious dinner for us all. Following that my parents took us through a selection of photos from their trip to the Arctic Circle before bed time. On Sunday morning we all got up fairly early. My parents so they could head off home after we left, and Rachel and I so we could get a tram and then train to Tower Bridge to run a leg of the City Relays for this year. A gentle 10K later and we were done and ready to run (slowly) back to Croydon again. This we duly did, although I wasn't feeling especially sprightly, and my right achilles was noticably 'not right'. Once we got home I took some more ibuprofen, and stretched and massaged for some of the rest of the day. We had lunch, watched some television, Rachel did some work, we did some housework and clothes washing, and then headed out to do some chores and order an Indian takeaway. Then it was bed time.

This morning was a moderately early start with me getting the train and then a bike back to work to get in just after 09:30. A few things have exploded today (a server needs a new HDD, which arrived this afternoon, but I've had no time to replace yet), I wasn't able to help someone as we hadn't made backups of the things they needed backing up (now remedied), and I managed to both patch, and schedule the patching of a whole slew of servers. Now I'm off home to go to Tesco for the week (although it's a short one as I'm not in on Friday), and get an early night for another early start tomorrow for (you guessed it) more patching and rebooting of things.

04/07/2019 [16:15] Another early start today, but to go for a run instead of going in to work. The weather was warm, but not too hot. The run wasn't too bad, and my achilles tendons weren't too unhappy about it. So that was good. After that I headed into work and have had a reasonable day of not too much work to do, which was also good. Over lunch I met up with Cormac outside of his building and then we got a lift with Shaun to a close by pub for a lovely (but a little bit too small) lunch. I had to have a doughnut when I got back to the office. The afternoon has been pretty quiet, so I'm heading off down to Croydon to see Rachel and also my parents, who've been staying with Rachel for the last half week. More on that on Monday.

04/07/2019 [15:55] Standard early start this morning. Got in and immediately misinterpreted some instructions for shutting down the live finance system prior to patching it all. Luckily everything seems to be OK after patching, rebooting into firmware updates, and then starting everything up again. There have been some issues which may or may not be connected with my work this morning, but I'm choosing to think they aren't. Since then I've done a whole slew of work to do with the traffic managers, the firewall (lots there), some DNS configuration and troubleshooting, and even some proper linux sysadmining. I've had a number of semi-panicked emails from developers, to which I've replied saying I've done what they needed, or asking for clarifications. In both events they've not really got around to replying to me. I do get a bit peeved when I knock my guts out getting something done and they don't appear to have the time to reply to my emails. Still, the work gets done nevertheless, and that's all that matters. It may take a little longer if I don't get a response, but that doesn't matter to me as it's someone else who needs the thing done.

Over lunch I did a very hot hill reps run in the sun. It seems like my right foot achilles tendonitis is just about holding at bay right now, but I'm not totally happy about the way it feels. I've had a short afternoon of more things getting done, and now I'm off to get my hair cut before it gets too bushy/shaggy and keeps too much heat in. Tomorrow's Friday, with lunch with Cormac and Shaun, which means a 1 hour run before breakfast so I've got the free time in the middle of the day. Might be a bit cooler, too.

03/07/2019 [17:40] Late start this morning. Which basically means getting up at 07:30 and getting to work at around 08:45, which was fine. No patching to do this morning. Today's actually been quite relaxing. Not all that much to do other than dealing with some DNS issues arising from yesterday's issues with one of the DNS servers, upgrading an application which was a good few versions out of date and potentially vulnerable. Otherwise, not a lot of excitement, which is just what I needed. Disappointingly, my right achilles seems to be playing up more than I would normally have been OK with. I'm really hoping that my achilles tendonitis isn't making an unwelcome return. No run today, so that's helpful, but I do have a hill reps session tomorrow, which isn't going to do me any favours. My old rowing club has two 4- boats in Henley Royal Regatta today. One has already been beaten, and the other is just about to race, so I'm going to stay at work until they've been, then I'll head home via Debenhams to return something I got Rachel that didn't work for her. The weather's still fairly nice here, so it should be a good cycle. Hopefully I won't lose a bike (lock) while locked up outside the shopping centre. The last time I was there I lost a lock, but not a bike.

I'm in early tomorrow morning for patching of our finance system. Hopefully everything will go smoothly. I think it takes a good while for the application and database servers to shut down, so I need to get in quite early.

02/07/2019 [18:15] I had an absolutely fabulous extended weekend with Rachel, thanks for asking. I headed to Croydon on Friday evening after work and the train journey was perfectly fine. I had to wait a little while for Rachel at the train station as her sports massage person was a bit late arriving for the appointment, but otherwise all was well. For the evening we had a lovely meal at home watching a bit of downloaded television, then headed to bed. On Saturday morning we got up early so Rachel could get a two hour pre-parkrun run in, and I could get forty minutes in. Then we did parkrun as our respective training plans required, and then had coffee and second breakfast with some friends/charity donors of Rachels. We walked home after all that rather than try to get moving any faster in the heat. Later in the afternoon, after I'd almost dozed off on the sofa two more of Rachel's friends arrived and we caught up for a while before heading out for a delicious curry at the place we normally get takeaway from. It was hot and humid, so even though it was a lovely evening, we were all glad to come home and head to bed. Sunday morning was relaxed and easy as we all had breakfast together and then once the friends were gone I was able to give Rachel her first batch of presents, which all went down very well. We headed off to the train station via the local bakery for packed lunch and jumped on the first train. After a few changes and about two hours we were in Henley-on-Thames and excitedly checking into a very lovely room in the Hotel du Vin there. After examining the room we headed out along the river, past all of the Henley Royal Regatta infrastructure (which brought back great memories of my racing there in years gone by) for an hour and fifteen minute run, which returned us to the boat tents so that we could walk through them and I could show Rachel some more of what it's like to compete at Henley. Once we were back in the hotel room, having snagged a drink from the bar on the way I gave Rachel her last two presents; two dresses I'd selected (one to be worn out to dinner that evening). I'd been nervous both in case she didn't like one or both, and/or they didn't fit. In the end I'll be returning one (as she doesn't like to have too many clothes) and she loved the other one. We went to dinner and ate wonderful food, then went for a short walk in the twilight before collapsing into bed. On Monday morning we woke with the sun, but dozed long enough to have just enough time for a leisurely breakfast before checkout. We left our bags with the hotel and I took us off to see some more of the town, as well as three bookshops I thought Rachel might enjoy. All were good, but one was selling books of Rachel's favourite type for £1 per book, so I made her select up to ten (she went with seven) for me to pay for. After that we just had time to get back for our bags, get some lunch to eat on the train and head back into London. I headed home from Paddington and Rachel to get her visa for South Sudan and then to collect someone from Heathrow. Back at home I was pleased to find that rats hadn't taken over the house, and that the lawn had been mowed. I popped to Tesco, then decided I was in for the night.

This morning I was up and into work early (as seems to be the norm at the moment). I patched and rebooted a dozen servers or so, without incident, and then settled into a day of fixing things, meetings, and a track intervals session at lunch time which was lovely to do, even if I'm a bit concerned about my right achilles tendon for the first time in a good few months.

No early morning start required tomorrow, actually, but I'll probably come in a bit early so I can leave early for a trip to return the dress Rachel didn't want.